Friday, April 5, 2013

Guest Blogger: Daddy goes to Italy

Well here we go again, I'm going to replace Erica and take another run at being the "Guest Blogger" on Happenings from the Husted Household. I've had a few other posts but certainly this is Erica's blog and I think she does a great job with it. I enjoy learning along with you about things happening in my own house. 

Since I only post a blog once a month, I tend to post long blogs. Sorry this is so long. 

As Erica noted in her last blog, I was in Italy this week. 

My job at times includes a lot of travel, including international travel, often for a week at a time. This year already I have spent a week in Costa Rica, a week in Paris and a week in Rome. 

I realize I'm not setting any records here; many other people travel every single week and truly live the "Up in the Air" lifestyle. That isn't me. I also know that many of my trips, including all overseas afford me the luxury of sitting in business/first class. It would be unfair for me to let you think that the travel experience is grueling for me. 

When I took this job, We knew travel would be part of my job (I work for a travel management company). That said, there is a real dichotomy with me and travel. 

On one hand, I love the opportunity to see the world, work with global peers and learn from relationships with people of so many different cultures. I have gained a strong global mindset which helps me both personally and professionally. I have had the chance to see some of the most iconic places in Europe, do work in near paradise locals and even go to a few less known locations. 

In the 6+ years since I took this gig; I have gone from "i don't' want to leave the US" to visiting 12 countries including England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, Bahamas, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Canada, Poland and India. I expect to add 2 more this year already. 

That said, time away from home wears on me emotionally and I although I have learned to adjust, I'm not as much a fan of sleeping or spending time in hotel rooms. I hate long flights home (like this one I'm on while writing this draft) as I'm always anxious to get home and get back to normal. At times I can get lonely, especially on travel days when I lack social interactions to distract me.

I realize this is a Mommy/Rory blog so I'll get back on theme a little. I think Rory understands when Daddy is gone but I'm sure she doesn't understand the concept of "work". I'd guess that in Rory's head, we drop her off at day care and then go home and play cups, watch Mickey, pull each other around in the wagon and eat. She only knows what she sees and she doesn't really see us "working". I wonder where she thinks I am when I travel? 

When I'm leaving, I feel sad. I usually get over it but if I see a young kid or Mickey Mouse; I immediately think of Rors and miss home. 

I'm not sure but for this trip Erica and Rors took me to the airport. When I went to give her a kiss goodbye, Rory cried. I can't tell you that she was crying because I was leaving; it easily could have been that she wanted to get out of her car seat or that she was hungry. That said, it was a tough flight to Amsterdam thinking about her crying. 

I also feel guilty a little that I get to do cool things while Erica has a much tougher week without me to share the parenting duties. I always try to balance the importance of sharing my experiences of my trips with the need to not make Erica resent me. It it's tough to balance. If I share too little,it feels shady but if I share too much it feels unfair to Erica.

The reality is that it isn't always work on these trips; often I can do fun tourist stuff on my first travel day (overnight flights land in Europe in the morning) AND often there are work dinners that are in fun areas). 

I had two experiences this week in Italy I am going to share. I've already shared the first with Erica and I doubt she'll care about the second. 

I had two focuses in Italy. The primary focus was to lead a full day of training on Thursday and to co-facilitate training on Wednesday afternoon. Joining that priority was a meeting on Tuesday to prepare for the training. But it did give me a break as Wednesday was the travel day for the Europeans who were coming for the training so we started at 12:45 PM. That gave me a random Wednesday morning free. 

One of my best friends at work is a peer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He lived in Miami when he was a kid, speaks perfect English and is a great guy. His Mom tipped him off that the Pope would be in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday morning at 10:30 AM. We decided to go. As a catholic, the chance to see the pope speak in the Vatican City seemed like a must-do opportunity. I assumed he'd come out of one of the window and speak for a few mins. I was so wrong. 

We got there and the crowd was growing. A bunch of people had "blue invites" but we simply walked past the first security process and walked up to a barrier. We knew we'd have to wait an hour so we leaned against the barrier. And the crowd grew. And then the section that we were corralled in was filled and we were 3/4 the way back in the square from the alter on the steps. 

The entire square was packed. People were singing. There was a ton of positive energy. There were priests with their church groups, many nuns, flags for so many countries. It honestly felt like a rock concert in a huge stadium. The anticipation was huge. 

So now we are packed in and Gonzalo says, why are the people on the other side of the walkway facing us? He starts to think that the Pope will come right past us. I doubted that. 

He was right. We had a front row seat for the Pope's procession. He drove right past us; like within 9 feet (or like 3 meters) We heard him speak but left before it started as we needed to get back for our 12:30 PM meeting. It was an amazing experience. As i write this I realize I don't seem to have the words to truly explain the feeling of the moment. 

The second experience was a weird moment. This is my second time to Rome. The first trip to Rome, all free time was used to see things. I saw the Coliseum, I saw the hole in the top of the Pantheon. I threw a coin in Trevi Fountain. I has gelatto in Piazza Novona walked through the oldest church in rome in Piazza Trastavere etc etc. 

This time, my focus was more subtle. We spent the nights watching the Champions League matches and Europa League matches. There is a small group of guys who attend many of the same meetings I attend and so it was our social guy time watching the football (or as you call soccer). So we found the most italian sports bar we could find; which was a Scottish Pub. It was filled with Americans (or as I call them Canadians) and Brits. Once the games were over it was around 11:00 PM and we were moving from the Scottish Pub to a "Wednesday Night Bar" and walked what seemed like halfway across Italy

So we are walking and most of the time I'm watching my Peruvian buddy who lives in France but is a great person to travel with as he speaks like 5 languages fluently including Italian try to read the map. And I also spent much of the time complaining how walking on cobblestone streets sucks. 

And we walked right past the Pantheon and no one really reacted. It has been in constant use since the 5th century.  People come there simply to see it; we walked right past it.   

So I tell these two stories because they seem to be aligned with the two things that I think I'm learning from having to deal with the dichotomy of my work travel. 

The first story leads me to this idea. Maybe I am a good Dad if I bring home the "adventures" of my trips. If I share them with Rory through meaningful gifts, pictures and stories throughout her childhood; I'll hopefully trigger a desire in her to have a global mindset and experiences younger than I did. I know that for her to be successful in her generation, this will be key. Maybe there is a little bit of a role model here for her, as she watches her Dad embrace learning and experience new cultures, locations etc 

And the second story leads me to this idea, it is very easy in life to take for granted things that are familiar. Maybe the time away is not the issue; maybe the focus is on what I can control which is to appreciate the time at home more. Maybe that makes me a better husband and Dad. 

And finally, maybe this won't matter at all because 14 year old Rory probably won't care where the hell Dad is anyhow. Maybe this is like anything with kids, a phase that I'll have to deal with but not one that will have lasting impacts. 

Erica "She was just crying about the car seat." 

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If you want to see my other blog about softball and coaching: The Navy and White

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